At one point or another every Java developer encounters a choice between Kotlin vs Flutter. Both are popular choices for Java developers, but which one is right for you? Well that depends on what your needs are and how much you’re willing to spend. Both have strong points and weaknesses, so if you have specific requirements it’s important to know those up front. In this article I’m going to give an overview of the main differences between these two languages, and help you decide which one to use for your next project.
One major difference is that Flutter, the main competitor of Kotlin, allows you to compile your code instead of creating an IDE. This means that you can write some code, edit it, and then compile and run your code directly from the command line. This feature is very powerful, especially for beginners who don’t yet have a lot of experience writing code. Instead of jumping through hoops or learning multiple different code editors, you can rely on just one.
Kotlin, on the other hand, uses a more traditional set of tools. Instead of requiring you to learn multiple different editors and codes, you learn a single tool called the “Kotlin compiler”. This compiles your code into Java, allowing you to run the code on the Java platform. While it doesn’t have quite the same features as Flutter’s “IDE”, it’s still a fairly substantial advantage. Plus, if you ever need to change your syntax, all you have to do is edit your code in the editor.
The biggest weakness of Flutter is its confusing nature. All of the functions and tools all seem to be related to some other function or tool. This leads to a fair bit of learning, and beginners quickly get frustrated with trying to understand what they’re supposed to be doing. The other drawback is that it doesn’t support a large number of plugins and doesn’t provide support for code navigation like Kotlin’s does.
So which one should you use? That entirely depends upon what you need from an IDE. If you need a simple, solid IDEs with built-in support for libraries and code navigation, then both platforms are excellent. However, if you need Intellisense-quality code completion, rich editor support for VBA, or other specialized features, then you will likely only be satisfied with one. Again, this shouldn’t be a problem with either platform.
So which one is “best” really comes down to how you want to work. Both platforms are excellent tools, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. For some coders, a lack of editor support may prove a hindrance. If you write a lot of non-trivial code, having the ability to quickly navigate your way through files can be invaluable. Both Flutter and Kotlin have excellent support for visual inspection and code completion. This makes them ideal for beginners, but it also makes them better choices for more experienced programmers.
When comparing both, there are a few things that stand out as important for any coder who needs to choose between the two. First, both platforms have excellent support for the Java platform, which means that Java developers no longer need to be left behind by new libraries and coding technologies. Even those who are strictly Java based can take advantage of the platform. In addition, both platforms have excellent debugging facilities, with Kotlin’s being especially useful if you tend to write a lot of boilerplate.
That’s really the main difference between the two: while both have excellent features, they do have different trade-offs. If you’re a Java developer looking to go native, then Flutter might be your best choice. If you’re a Rails or web developer wanting to take advantage of an existing platform, then Kotlin is your best bet. It just might be that in your particular situation, one will work out better than the other.